Film Festival & Photography Contest
How can cinema use insects with a narrative purpose? It may underline the inner self of a character like in Shohei Imamura’s films. Or produce wild images as did surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Eva Rini May Cragg’s short film Ben and Mimi - Mimi and Ben is more akin to the Spanish director movies, as its narrative tells an affair between a woman and a caterpillar. However, here the surrealism of this passionate relationship is more in the imagination of the viewer than on the screen (and not in the face like in Buñuel). For instance, the acknowledgement of the love at first sight moment is shown with an extreme close-up of the caterpillar when the woman, Mimi, sees him. This same shot also humanizes the insect, as the close-up is similar to any other one that we find in a romantic movie when two lovers meet. Besides that, Eva Rini May Cragg finds a brilliant solution to show a sex scene between Mimi and the caterpillar. It is communicated through a sensual dance of the couple.
Cast: Megan Channell, Eric Whitten
Stuck in a claustrophobic marriage, a woman begins an emotional affair with a caterpillar.
Oddly enough, the most surreal scenes are the ones that show the strange relationship between the woman and Ben, her human mate. In order to reveal that the relationship is toxic, the movie shows bizarre situations like the one in which the man is uncapable of choosing the colors of the gloves he uses to take a bath. Ben is like a child and needs Mimi for the simplest things in his life. Definitely, this exaggeration leads to the surrealism in explicit form.
Written by: Eva Rini May Cragg
Director of Photography: Gabriel Wilson, Production Design: Yu-Hsuan Chen
Last but not least, another example of the distinguished direction of Ben and Mimi - Mimi and Ben is in the use of the frame inside the frame. We find this at the end of the opening scene and at least in two scenes with Mimi and Ben together. In all cases, the main character feels overwhelmed, and the frames of the door or the window underscore this.
To make things even better, the acting by Megan Channell (as Mimi) is superb. Without using words, she is capable of expressing the anguish and the liberating passion of her complex character, and in a quite unusual situation.
Ben and Mimi - Mimi and Ben showcases these two breaking through talents along with the great rest of the cast and crew. It is audacious and at the same time academically planned.
Ben and Mimi - Mimi and Ben
2022, USA, 15 min
Directed by: Eva Rini May Cragg
Film Critic, the founder of Leitura Filmica
Above all, the first scene is probably the best part of the movie. Without words (and they are scarce throughout the whole film), the images communicate all we need to know about the main character. It opens with a shot of Mimi on the right side of a window, and we see that on her left there’s nobody in the other frame. So we learn that she feels lonely. Besides, the glass in front of her is smeared with drops of water, showing that she is suffocated – and this is confirmed literally in another scene. Then the open shot reveals that she is sitting on the floor, and we reckon she is resigned with this situation. The sound editing completes this scene. We acknowledge that she is listening to birds singing in her earphones, as if longing for the nature that is outside, unreachable for her. And the voice of Ben calling her breaks her dream, calling her back to her sad reality.
Produced by: Apoorva Guru Charan
Nature plays the part of everything she wants but can’t have. So she keeps samples of it inside her refrigerator – which is a brilliant idea to show this without being too literal. In the end, her so needed passion takes the form of an owl, who she frees opening the door of her house. By the way, as the film dwells in the realm of surrealism, the owl might be the butterfly that the caterpillar turned into.
In the director’s statement, she expresses that she planned to use static frames at the beginning and then evolve the movements of the camera after Mimi meets the caterpillar. However, what strikes mostly in this sense is the action of the main character herself. She moves more after the “meet-cute” and even confronts physically her partner. One issue that we must point out is that in the yoga scene it would be better to have a extreme close-up frame on the caterpillar, as it is not so easy to see that the insect is on Mimi’s shoulder.